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J. Biol. Chem. 281 (50): 38812-38824

© 2006 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

Orexin-1 Receptor-Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor Heterodimerization Results in Both Ligand-dependent and -independent Coordinated Alterations of Receptor Localization and Function*

James Ellis, John D. Pediani, Meritxell Canals, Sandra Milasta, , and Graeme Milligan1

Molecular Pharmacology Group, Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, United Kingdom

Abstract: Following inducible expression in HEK293 cells, the human orexin-1 receptor was targeted to the cell surface but became internalized following exposure to the peptide agonist orexin A. By contrast, constitutive expression of the human cannabinoid CB1 receptor resulted in a predominantly punctate, intracellular distribution pattern consistent with spontaneous, agonistindependent internalization. Expression of the orexin-1 receptor in the presence of the CB1 receptor resulted in both receptors displaying the spontaneous internalization phenotype. Single cell fluorescence resonance energy transfer imaging indicated the two receptors were present as heterodimers/oligomers in intracellular vesicles. Addition of the CB1 receptor antagonist SR-141716A to cells expressing only the CB1 receptor resulted in re-localization of the receptor to the cell surface. Although SR-141716A has no significant affinity for the orexin-1 receptor, in cells co-expressing the CB1 receptor, the orexin-1 receptor was also re-localized to the cell surface by treatment with SR-141716A. Treatment of cells co-expressing the orexin-1 and CB1 receptors with the orexin-1 receptor antagonist SB-674042 also resulted in re-localization of both receptors to the cell surface. Treatment with SR-141716A resulted in decreased potency of orexin A to activate the mitogen-activated protein kinases ERK1/2 only in cells co-expressing the two receptors. Treatment with SB-674042 also reduced the potency of a CB1 receptor agonist to phosphorylate ERK1/2 only when the two receptors were co-expressed. These studies introduce an entirely novel pharmacological paradigm, whereby ligands modulate the function of receptors for which they have no significant inherent affinity by acting as regulators of receptor heterodimers.


Received for publication March 16, 2006. Revision received September 29, 2006.

* This work was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust. The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked "advertisement" in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

1 To whom correspondence should be addressed: Davidson Bldg., University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, UK. Tel.: 44-141-330-5557; Fax: 44-141-330-4620; E-mail: g.milligan{at}bio.gla.ac.uk.

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